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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

September 4 to September 18, 2020

Fishing Under PAUSE

You can still go fishing under the Governor's PAUSE Executive Order. However, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we ask that you please act safely when fishing. Do not crowd access sites. If you arrive at an angler access area that is congested, consider finding another area that is less crowded or consider fishing another day. When you're on the water, please make sure there is ample room between you and your fellow anglers. Don't share a boat unless it is large enough so that all persons aboard can always remain at a minimum distance of six feet apart. Providing ample distance helps to reduce the spread of colds, flu and COVID-19 and also contributes to an overall better angling experience. When boating and fishing, DEC and State Parks recommend New Yorkers to #RecreateLocal, avoid busy waters and follow the guidelines for Recreating Safely and Responsibly in New York State.

Lake Erie & Tributaries

Unfavorable Lake Erie conditions have kept most anglers away this week. Those that did get out report decent to good walleye action between Cattaraugus Creek and Dunkirk. Depths of 75-90 feet off Cattaraugus Creek and to the west have produced the best and most consistent catches on gear run close to the bottom. Walleye are coming from similar depths off Dunkirk, but anglers have had to work harder for them. Walleye have seemingly not been favoring a particular lure type, color or presentation lately. If good marks are not translating into catches, change it up. For more information see the Walleye Fishing on Lake Erie page.

Lake trout are an underutilized species in Lake Erie, however late summer is a great time to fish for them. Target lakers below the thermocline where water temperatures are cooler, typically between 70 feet down and the bottom. Catches are generally best in 80-115 feet of water west of Dunkirk. Running spoons off downriggers works well.

Niagara River

Smallmouth bass are available throughout the upper river. Good spots to try include the head of the river, head of Strawberry Island, east side of Strawberry and Motor Islands and in the west river along Beaver Island State Park and Staley's Reef. Ned jigs or three-way rigs with plastics, live shiners or crayfish work well for bass.

Smallmouth bass and walleye catches have been decent in mid-river drifts and on the Niagara Bar. Solid numbers of king salmon have not shown along Niagara Bar ledge just yet, but once they do, the lower river spawning run is not far off. In general, king salmon start to trickle into the river in early September. Numbers build through the month, with the run often peaking during the last week of September. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River

Lake Ontario & Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

We are entering the king salmon staging period, so look for increasing numbers of mature kings to show off creek mouths, especially off stocked tributaries such as the lower Niagara River, Eighteenmile Creek, Oak Orchard Creek, Sandy Creek and the Genesee River. During early morning and late afternoon, some anglers have picked up a flurry of mature kings inside 100 feet of water at times, but nothing consistent. Some big brown trout are showing inshore as well. Spoons, flasher-fly combos and J-plugs are good offerings for staging salmon. Deep waters of 300-500 feet plus have produced more consistent catches of steelhead and king salmon of mixed ages in the top 80 feet. For instructional information visit the Trolling for Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon page.

DEC Lake Ontario Fisheries Unit requests angler assistance with a Lake Ontario Fish Diet Study and Coho Salmon Head Collection.

Chautauqua Lake

Catches have slowed, but weedlines in the north basin remain the best bet for walleye. Target walleye with bouncing rigs with wormharnesses and with stickbaits run near the bottom. Vertical jigging with jigging Rapala-style lures is also productive, especially tight to the weedline. Vertical jigging has also produced some catches around the rims of deeper holes. Look for that to improve as water temps drop. Anglers can target muskellunge along weedlines, or suspended 10-15 feet down over 20-35 feet of water. Fishing along weed edges and in pockets with live minnows and worms is a good bet for a mix of yellow perch, white perch, white bass and bluegill. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Inland Trout Fishing

The region's inland trout streams remain lower and clear. Creek temperatures have generally been favorable though mid-day, although temps can run a bit high on larger streams on hot and sunny days. Best to avoid trout fishing at that time. Smaller hatches of tricos or blue-winged olives are possible on some streams. Terrestial and stimulator patterns are good options for surface action. In low water conditions, moving stealthily and use ultra light tippets will help fool wary trout. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams, Stocked Trout Streams and Stocked Lakes and Ponds to choose from. Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region's best streams. Check out the Fishing for Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, fishing equipment and techniques.

Genesee River Angler Diarists Needed

The New York State DEC Region 9 Fisheries Office will be running an angler diary program on the Genesee River in Allegany and Wyoming Counties from March 1st through October 31st, 2020. This program will cover the river from the PA line downstream through Letchworth State Park and will record data for both trout and bass fishing trips. If you fish the Genesee River (even once) and would like to keep a diary for DEC please call the Region 9 Fisheries Office at (716) 379-6379 or e-mail at This diary program will be used to evaluate the quality of the fishery and determine future management actions.

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.